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Ryan Hall Interview

Days before the Boston Marathon, Ryan Hall answers questions on a range of topics.

Interview by: Duncan Larkin

As soon as the starting gun went off in last year’s Boston Marathon, Ryan Hall bolted to the front. For the next 3 miles, battling a slight headwind, Hall dictated the pace with a blazing 14:35 opening 5K, throwing the race chock full of superfast East Africans into confusion. Although he didn’t win, Hall still managed to make it onto the podium, finishing third. Hungry as ever for a victory, Hall, 27, returns to Boston this year. If he is able to pull it off, Hall will be the first American man to win since 1983.

We conducted the following email interview with Ryan as he put the final touches on his race preparations in Boston. Though you finished fourth at last year’s New York City Marathon, it wasn’t what you had hoped to accomplish and you were admittedly not too pleased with your performance. Would you describe that race as a setback of any kind? Did you learn anything about yourself in that race? Will you run NYC again?

Ryan Hall: Disappointing races are only setbacks if you let them discourage you. I was disappointed but I learned a ton from it. I am sure I will return to NY one day and hit it right.

How is the Hall Steps Foundation coming along? What have your biggest challenges been in starting a foundation? Since you are focusing on poverty in Africa, have you considered consulting with or using African runners to help promote the foundation? If no, why not? Clean water/poverty/disease–all the challenges in Africa are extremely daunting. How will you measure success with your foundation?

Well, our goal is to contribute to ending global poverty. This will not happen through one person or one organization. The whole idea behind the Hall Steps Foundation is for everyone to get involved and take a step. It is only through our collective efforts that we will accomplish our goal, but with that said, every small step of every individual touches lives. The foundation is already a success because it has touched one life and it will continue to be a success. I will
not allow it to be measured by numbers.

Last year at Boston you took off–trying to catch the pack off guard, changing the dynamic of the race from the beginning. In hindsight do you think that tactic worked in your favor? Do you have any similar surprises planned this year?

It is hard to say if it worked or not. I was very proud of my third-place finish and may have finished much further back if I hadn’t pushed early, or maybe I would have won if I wouldn’t have. We will never know so I don’t waste energy thinking about what-ifs, especially this far removed. With that said I have a much better understanding of the course this year and will race it differently than last year, but how the specifics will play out I do not know.  This is what makes running the race so exciting.

What are you doing differently in training for Boston this year? What kind of workouts are you doing? What’s your mileage been and how has it differed compared to last year?

My mileage is about the same (140 at the highest). I spent some more time at sea level and spent more time taking care of my body with self-therapy.

Mo Trafeh recently ran the fourth-fastest U.S. half marathon. you see him as a threat to your half-marathon record?

It is only a matter of time till my record is broken so I don’t really sweat it. It’s either going to be Mo or Dathan [Ritzenhein], or Galen [Rupp] or whoever. That’s the nature of records. I’ll be happy to pass my record on and try to improve upon it myself. I knew Mo from high school. He is a great guy and has a lot of talent. I am excited to see him doing well and pushing the envelope of U.S. running.

As you look forward to 2012, how will you approach next year? What marathons are you looking at?

Well, I am running the Chicago Marathon in the fall and then I don’t really know beyond that.  I am excited for 2012 as it will hold great opportunity for me but I am trying to get to the place where I am living in the moment and every day is sweet.

After Ritz had been training for last year’s London Marathon, he broke the 5K American record thanks to his enormous aerobic base. Are you compelled to follow in his footsteps and get back on the track? Why not try to make the Olympic team on the track as well as the marathon?

I think it comes down to following your heart and w hat you are passionate for. I love the marathon and don’t have a huge desire to get on the track and have a full-blown season. With that said, my heart can always change so I am open to it. I feel like God created me to run the marathon and do something special in the event. Until I accomplish this end or God tells me otherwise I will not relent.

How is your relationship with Terrence? Not assuming it’s bad, but would you ever consider being coached by someone else or training anywhere else other than Mammoth?

I feel very blessed to work with Coach Mahon and have my teammates on the Mammoth Track Club. I see no reason to consider change at this time. Bloom where you’re planted, right?

Most people reading this want to get some pointers from one of America’s best marathoners. What is one workout you recommend to all marathoners regardless of ability? And why do you consider that workout so important?

I would say that if I could only manage one workout a week it would be a tempo run. I would suggest that everyone should set an aggressive goal marathon pace and to start extending the distance they are able to run for this distance as the weeks of training progress.